Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Obama Insults Christianity and Judaism : One Simple Jew Replies

The Democrats are big believers in the wall of separation between church and state. Unfortunately, they have a way of stepping from behind the wall to take potshots at scripture. Christians are outraged at Obama's public statements ridiculing their religious faith. They have a PAC called "Our Country deserves better, in which they put together clips of Obama regurgitating common smears against Judaeo Christian sacred texts. In the ad, Obama quotes English translations of Hebrew sripture in a mocking tone, contrasting the statement that eating shellfish is an "abomination" with biblical passages condoning slavery. Then he talks about stoning a child who leaves the faith. He signs off with a distortion of the" Sermon on the Mount" that would have Jesus wearing an Obama for President button.

Where do I begin? Three out of the four passages sneeringly cited are translations of the Jewish Scripture. So this isn't just a Christian thing, folks. For starters, there are three kinds of commandments in Jewish law. There are mishpatim, or judgements. These are commandments that would make common sense in any case. Then there are eydus, or commemorative commandments such as those revolving around Passover, which revolve around commemorating values and events that are important. Then there are chukim, or statutes, which are beyond common sense. Almost all dietary law is in the category of chukim. Ridiculing it makes no sense at all. G-d is above human reason, and accordingly has given some commandments that reflect that.

The contrast of slavery with shellfish creates a picture of Judaism in which ritual minutae eclipse basic morality. Slavery in Judaism is really indentured servitude, in which the indentured servant is released in the seventh year of a seven year calendric cycle with enough money and gifts to make a new start. It involves major restrictions on how the person in servitude must be treated. It has nothing in common with American slavery.

The passage that Obama refers to in which a child leaving the faith is stoned is a gross distortion of a passage dealing with a " rebellious child". The legal description of a rebellious child describes specific behaviors and does not touch on espoused beliefs. According to the Talmud, there has never been a sentence of stoning passed on a rebellious child and never will be. It is a law that exists in theory. It is discussed extensively in rabbinic sources that focus more on the behavior of parents that would lead to such rebellious behavior in children. The Jewish Bible makes no sense when it is divorced from Talmudic commentary.

I can not comment on the "Sermon on the Mount". To do so would be "above my pay grade." I do know that Judaism does condone national self defense with use of deadly force. There is no shortage of Christian clergy who can make the same case for Christianity.

Obama's ridicule of scripture sounds like the product of left wing bull sessions at which too many participants inhaled. It stands as yet another reproach of Reverend Wright's church in which Obama prayed for twenty years. It is reasonable to expect an Obama administration to be guided by a contemptuous attitude towards the faiths of the majority of its citizens. Obama's religious commentary was not delivered at his dining room table. It was delivered at a political rally. That makes it a political statement. Voters should be aware of his views and cast their votes accordingly.

Judaism and slavery Sphere: Related Content


Anonymous said...

It was a disturbing performance from a so-called Christian. One should not heap ridicule on others' faith, and this goes particulary for your religion insofar as Christians are concerned.


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